Springhouse Solicitors

Agency worker not an employee

We are always interested in Court of Appeal decisions. Other than the Supreme Court (which was the House of Lords) this is the highest court in the UK.

As a general rule, employment claims will start in the Employment Tribunal and progress to the Employment Appeal Tribunal before getting to the Court of Appeal. Appeals can be made on points of law only, and not decisions about facts (e.g. he did threaten to sack me) unless the Tribunal got the facts seriously wrong.

But we digress. There was a time not so long ago when a worker placed by an agency with an end user (the agency’s client) would be deemed to be an employee of the end user, with all the rights this entails, if they worked as part and parcel of the end user’s workforce. Naturally, this would often catch the end user out and was exactly the thing they were trying to avoid.

Fortunately for employers, this position has changed entirely, and the recent decision we refer to confirms this (read the decision here). In this case, although the worker was part and parcel of the end user’s own workforce, the Court of Appeal decided that he was not an employee of theirs.

The judge’s reasoning centred on whether there was a contract between the worker and the end user at all. They found that there wasn’t one; the degree of integration was irrelevant, the contract between the worker and the agency was sufficient to explain things, the parties would have behaved in exactly the same way without one, and the worker had turned one down in the past. All points end users will be able to make in future cases.